Noble Summit: Win $20,000+ in Prizes for Best Teacher Ideas

Noble Summit: Win $20,000+ in Prizes for Best Teacher Ideas

We’re just six days away from the kickoff of the Noble Impact Educators Summit, and we’ve got great news: Your ideas could win your school a portion of $20,000+ in tech funds, thanks to the Summit’s presenting sponsor, the Arkansas Department of Career Education (ACE)!

The second day of #NobleSummit is focused on the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Civic Innovation Challenge, where attendees will join forces in teams to create and pitch innovative ideas to improve career education in Arkansas. Teams will consist of teachers, community leaders, and students.

Tech & Classroom Funding

Teachers on winning teams will win Perkins-allowable funding for new technology and classroom materials, in the amounts of:

  • 1st Place: $3,000 per teacher on the team
  • 2nd Place: $2,000 per teacher on the team
  • 3rd Place: $1,000 per teacher on the team

Pilot Program

In addition to Perkins funding, ACE is planning to pilot one lucky team’s idea. So, come with your A+ game!


The CTE Civic Innovation Challenge, taking place at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub on July 28th, is all about the intersection of teacher voice, student voice, and community voice. When we all come together, we can rewire education for purpose and relevance.

Register for the Noble Impact Educators Summit!

CTE Educators: Get Free Registration to Noble Summit!

CTE Educators: Get Free Registration to Noble Summit!

We’re excited to announce that the Noble Impact Educators Summit, powered by Noble Impact and presented by the Arkansas Department of Career Education, is available free of charge to all Arkansas Career and Technical Education (CTE) educators. Join us this July 27-29 for an unforgettable professional development experience!

Registration, typically $225, is complimentary for the first 100 Arkansas CTE educators to sign up. Email now to obtain your complimentary registration code.

With just three weeks left until the Summit, now is the time to sign up. Key benefits for teachers include:

  • Professional development credit
  • Three days of collaborative problem-solving
  • Sessions on apprenticeships, digital portfolios, and classroom culture
  • Complimentary registration and swag bag
  • An opportunity to pilot an educational solution at your school

The Noble Impact Educators Summit, a three-day professional development event where educators will challenge one another to rewire education for purpose and relevance, is kicking off this July 27-29, 2016 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Summit will convene educators to collaborate, tackle problems, and propose solutions for key educational issues, while also taking a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on facilitation, classroom culture, entrepreneurship education, digital tools, and storytelling. It will feature a roster of outstanding educators, students, and education advocates to Little Rock to speak about how we can improve education for all students. And teachers will receive professional development credit for attending.

Thank you to the Arkansas Department of Career Education for providing complimentary access to the Educators Summit for 100 CTE educators this summer!

Learn more about the Educators Summit at or on our blog.

Email to receive your complimentary registration code. Hurry! Offer limited to first 100 registrants!

SXSWedu Takeaways From An Education Newbie

SXSWedu Takeaways From An Education Newbie

Last year, I made a career switch to education, joining Noble Impact, because education has had a profound impact on me as a first-generation college student.

With my new role, I’ve taken on an immense amount of learning opportunities including attending dozens of educators summit and professional development events; hosting student programming with the team; and conducting research both at a sector level and within Noble Impact’s own initiatives.

Being a newbie in education, this year was my first time to attend SXSWedu, one of the most well-reputed and fastest-growing education conferences in the nation. Though I had attended its predecessor, SXSW, a series of Music, Film, and Interactive festivals, edu was a whole new beast for me. I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the experience. As I transition to SXSW, which starts the day after SXSWedu ends, I’ll be ruminating on the key takeaways SXSW’s education-obsessed cousin event invoked in me around diversity, professional development, and technology.

Educators Have Meaningful Discourse About Diversity

SXSW Finding the Medium Panel
Education equity was such a present topic at SXSWedu that it slightly derailed, but also enhanced (in the end), this panel about teacher voice.
All over the web and in the news, I’m continually appalled by the amount of racist, sexist, classist, and generally offensive and ignorant behavior that goes on in America. In the past months alone, multiple peaceful protesters were attacked at political rallies, Asian children were mocked on the Oscars’ stage, and Navajo beliefs were written into Harry Potter plots, much to the dismay of many Native American communities.

Just today in Little Rock, a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt was pulled from the gift shop at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum about African American history and culture in Arkansas, reportedly because “being a state agency, the museum must represent all Arkansans.” Interesting, because the last time I checked, the mission of the center was to “collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American’s achievements – especially in business, politics, and the arts.” The Mosaic does an exceptional job of that… when it’s not being censored, apparently.

All over the place, I hear people insisting that these injustices, based on skin tones, sexual preferences, economic background, don’t exist. At SXSWedu, though, it was a topic that came up in nearly every session I attended, whether it was the focus or not.

I have an inkling of a hypothesis that educators — who spend time every day in classroom, where a projected 51.5% of K-12 students are non-white, a majority for the first school year in American history — might be the group of people who are talking most about diversity and inclusion within their industry. I don’t have those stats, but my experience at SXSWedu at least was that it was a topic atop many people’s minds. It’s an ongoing theme I’ve seen at other conferences and events, too, which surprised me, because it sometimes feels like most of America is oblivious to the inequity that still exists in our country.

Teacher Training Can Be Awesome

Noble Impact at SXSWedu
Noble Impact co-founder Chad Williamson and I stormed SXSWedu to learn all the best that’s going on in education.
Only 29% of teachers are satisfied with current professional development (endearingly called PD, I’ve learned). That’s a stat I picked up from a SXSWedu session focused on redesigning teacher PD.

We often talk a lot about redesigning the student experience: Flipping the classroom, personalizing curriculum, implementing project-based learning. But what about teachers? They’re humans, too! And sitting in a conference hall for 8 hours straight, listening to lectures, is certainly not anyone’s idea of fun.

SXSWedu itself proved to me that ongoing teacher PD can be fun and engaging. This is one of only a few teacher training events I’ve attended in the past year, where I’ve legitimately had fun. There were all types of sessions — panels, team-based workshops, 15-minute talks, solution-driven summits. The only thing I’d add is more students… we talk about student voice, but there was a major lack of it, which is chronic across all PD and educator’s events. If we’re serving students, let’s have them there to contribute thoughts and ideas!

This summer, I should note, Noble Impact is launching its own inaugural educator’s professional development summit, and we hope to build it around the things we believe to be important in the classroom… Stay tuned for more! And in the meantime, try to spice up any PD you go to by suggesting some SXSWedu-style engagement!

Technology Is A Means, Not An End

SXSWedu YouTube's Top Teachers
Even a panel about teachers on YouTube wasn’t about technology in the end!
Lastly, but not least, I was pleasantly surprised that though SXSW-organized events are focused on innovation, most of the conversation at SXSWedu was not explicitly about technology. The two — innovation and technology — are often lumped together. But not at SXSWedu.

Even at panels in which I expected the focus to be around the wonders of technology and the Internet, such as the one about top educators on YouTube, the session content was focused on solving educational problems.

In the technology and media sectors, where I hail from, we often get caught up with the latest technologies for technology’s sake: “Oh my gosh, I can get notifications on my wrist with this watch! Holy moly, I can send a message and it disappears after reading? YAS. Wait, I can put on these goggles and feel like I’m across the world? Neat!” Ok, they’re all fun ideas, but are we utilizing them to solve problems? Or just dilly-dally our lives away?

I didn’t see a sense of technology ogling much at SXSWedu, except maybe among some of the technology providers. Educators, though, get straight to the point: How am I going to use this in my classroom? How does it enhance my students’ experiences? What are the key educational outcomes? Now, that’s some pragmatism I can get behind.

Were You At SXSWedu?

What about you? Did you attend SXSWedu 2016? If so, tweet us your thoughts on what you found interesting: @ericaswallow and @nobleimpact. Until next year!

Header image courtesy of official SXSW photographer Jessy Ann Huff. All other photos by Noble Impact.

What Happens When Educators Convene To Reimagine Entrepreneurial Studies

What Happens When Educators Convene To Reimagine Entrepreneurial Studies

Chad Williamson Erica Swallow at Babson
Noble Impacters Chad Williamson and Erica Swallow attended the Hawken Educators Workshop at Babson College this week.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about teachers, it’s that the most passionate educators are some of the most entrepreneurial people I’ve ever met. Whether they’re trying to acquire school supplies for their classrooms or seeking out community partners for student projects, good teachers are willing to go to bat for the betterment of their students.

That sentiment was evident this weekend at the Hawken School Educators Workshop for Entrepreneurial Studies, which was attended by 29 educators and administrators (including Noble Impact co-founder Chad Williamson and myself, Noble’s latest recruit as VP of Product) from 20 schools across America. The educators I met were fired up to teach their students life skills — such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills — that will serve them not just for the short-term, but also throughout their lives as engaged students, workers, and citizens.

Sticky Notes Exercises
The workshop featured many opportunities to get piled knee-high in sticky notes.

I saw educators like engineering teacher Tom Dubick of Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, North Carolina advocating for rapid prototyping technologies in the classroom, so that students can learn by doing, iterating, and launching. And there was Talia Sukol, a middle school teacher from Cleveland with a background in fine arts looking to build an entrepreneurship program for middle schoolers, to kickstart creativity at a younger age. I was blown away by teachers like Jesse Downs of Providence Day School — also in Charlotte, North Carolina (maybe there’s something in the water?!) — who facilitated a “Paperclip Project” with his students in which they traded up a paperclip to more valuable items in order to create long-lasting good in their communities. The projects and stories these educators were working on were impressive, inspiring, and downright impactful.

Teaching Versus Learning Doris Korda
Hawken School Director of Entrepreneurial Studies Doris Korda discusses the importance of self-directed student discovery.

The workshop featured opportunities to build, discuss, and question and was organized by Doris Korda and Tim Desmond — director and assistant director of entrepreneurial studies, respectively, at Hawken School, a primary and secondary school in Cleveland, Ohio that’s been making headlines (here’s a piece in the Wall Street Journal) for its inventive methods and content.

Wallet Exercise
Educators were challenged to develop empathic thinking with the “Wallet Exercise.”

The workshop kicked off with a lecture by Korda, followed by the “Wallet Project,” an exercise developed at the Stanford that employs design thinking to design the “perfect wallet” for a given user. They were also challenged to tell the story of a company using the Business Model Canvas, invented by strategist, writer, and speaker Alex Osterwalder. Not to mention, attendees are asked to take Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad online course prior to day one of the workshop, which is billed as 24 hours of engagement on average.

The educators I met are dedicated to launching and sustaining programs that make a difference in their students’ academics, to say the least. They, too, are collaborative individuals, looking to soak in best practices and work with people from all walks. In fact, there was no greater collaboration over the weekend than between the educators and students, a handful of which traveled from Hawken School to facilitate various exercises with the attendees.

Business Model Canvas by Jeanine Esposito
Innovation Builders President and CEO Jeanine Esposito presents a Business Model Canvas project.

My favorite event was the “Fever Pitch,” in which attendees were tasked with pitching wild startup ideas, such as an invisible couch, a silent vacuum cleaner, and scented sunscreen. Presented and run by students, the event showcased just how skilled the students were at communicating and leading, and it also gave educators the chance to practice the lessons they may soon be teaching.

The gathering — held at leading entrepreneurial university Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts — was one of two Hawken School workshops to occur this summer; the other is to take place next week in California.

If the second is anything like the first, massive opportunities for collaboration and continued engagement will arise. All I can say is I’m excited about what our team and those of our colleagues do from here!

Are you a teacher of entrepreneurial studies? If so, what’s your best advice for educators launching entrepreneurship programs at their schools? Share your ideas in the comments below.